Site Selection For Snail Farming
Snails are good at escaping from enclosures. A priority in setting up a productive snail farming venture, therefore, is to construct escape proof housing. There are several types of snail housing (snaileries) to choose from, depending on the size of the venture. The first step, however, is to select an appropriate site.
The main factors to consider in site selection are the following:
• Wind speed and direction
• Soil characteristics
• Safety(protecting the snails from diseases, predators and poachers)
Soil is a major part of a snail’s habitat. Soil composition, water content and texture are important factors to consider in site selection. The snail’s shell is made up mainly of calcium derived from the soil and from feed.
Snails derive most of their water requirements from the soil. Snails dig in the soil to lay their eggs and to rest during the dry season.
Soils with high organic matter support the growth and development of snails. In general, if a soil supports good growth of cocoyam, tomatoes and leafy vegetables, it is suitable for snail farming. Before introducing snails to the site, the soil should be loosened by tilling. Snails need damp, not wet, environments. Although snails need moisture, you must drain wet or waterlogged soil.
Calcium and magnesium stimulate growth best. Calcium may also be set out in a feeding dish or trough so the snails can eat it at will.
Snails dig in soil and ingest it. Good soil favors snail growth and provides some of their nutrition.
Lack of access to good soil may result in fragile shells even if the snails have well-balanced feed; the snails’ growth may lag far behind the growth of other snails on good soil. Snails often eat feed, then eat dirt. Sometimes, they eat only one or the other. Eventually the soil in the snail pens will become fouled with mucus and droppings. Chemical changes may also occur. The soil must, therefore, be changed once every three months.
Free Range Pens
Essentially, free-range pens are large mini-paddock pens: a fenced area of up to 10 × 20 m, planted with plants, shrubs and trees that provide food and shelter from wind, sun and rain. Just like in a mini-paddock pen, the vertical fence must be extended inwards, to prevent snails from escaping. If the fence is constructed of fine chicken wire mesh, the overhang is not obligatory because snails dislike crawling on wire mesh.
The fence must be dug at least 20 cm into the ground. The free-range pen might even be completely enclosed and roofed.
Application and use
Free-range pens may serve as the sole snail enclosure in cycle of the snail develops within the open pen an extensive snail farming system, or as growing and fattening pens in a semi intensive one. In the extensive snail farm the entire life cycle of the snail develops within the open pen: mating, egg laying, hatching, hatchling development, and growth of the snails to maturity. Snails feed on the plants provided in the pen. In a semi-intensive snail farm the free-range pen serves as a growing and fattening pen for adult snails, which were raised through the egg hatchling- juvenile stages in hutch boxes or trench pens.
Advantages and Disadvantages
In an extensive system using a free-range pen the snails develop in a near-normal habitat. They will take shelter in the vegetation or the soil during the day, coming out at night to feed. A simple fenced free-range pen is relatively simple and cheap to construct. Management is restricted to occasional replanting of food and shelter plants. If the vegetation within the pen is kept in shape, additional feeding of the snails is not necessary. A fully enclosed and roofed pen is quite costly to build, obviously, especially if provided with a concrete apron and drain.
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